Winners of the Treehousing International Wood Design Competition announced at XIV World Forestry Congress

winning submission "jungle gym" by ayla harvey of south africa
winning submission “jungle gym” by ayla harvey of south africa
The winners of the Treehousing International Wood Design Competition were announced recently at the XIV World Forestry Congress in Durban, South Africa. More than 200 projects by teams representing 60 countries were submitted for the contest, which was jointly organized by the Canada-based DBR | Design Build Research School and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Housing for the world’s growing urban population and the threat of deforestation are two of the most significant issues facing humanity today. The competition challenged architecture students, professional architects and engineers around the world to develop innovative wood housing and affordable urban building solutions for Africa and beyond. Entrants were required to use any sustainably harvested wood material or product as the primary material for their designs.

“One of the main aims of the contest was to highlight the huge potential of legal and sustainably produced wood as a cost-efficient and versatile building material and valid alternative to non-renewable materials such as steel and concrete that leave a much heavier carbon footprint,” said FAO Forestry Officer Jukka Tissari.

“Wood has been used as a building material for thousands of years and, worldwide, one in three houses are made from wood, yet it is a material that tends to be sidelined in larger-scale modern building projects. We hope the many extraordinary entries in this contest will encourage and inspire policy-makers, architects, city planners and designers to look afresh at using renewable woods for housing.”

Canadian architect Michael Green, author of The Case for Tall Wood Buildings, led a jury that also included British architect Andrew Waugh and South African architect Richard Stretton.

“We could not be more pleased and impressed with the number and quality of the competition submissions,” said Green. “Wood in building design is seeing a resurgence around the world as architects and designers learn to work with it in more innovative and sustainable ways. New wood technologies are linking our rural forest economies with our growing urban environments with increasingly larger and now taller wood buildings.”

“This competition underscores the impact that architects and designers can have in reshaping our communities and cities with healthy, safe, sustainable and beautiful wood buildings that connect each and every inhabitant with the wonder of nature,” said Green.

For the first of two categories in the competition, the city of Durban allotted an abandoned 2,280-square-metre site, 97 Ingcuce Road, at a major intersection near the city centre to inspire tall wood housing projects. Entrants were asked to design a high-rise solution that would address the housing needs of the community.

Two submissions tied for the Grand Prize in this category: Ayla Harvey (South Africa), an architectural student whose design “Jungle Gym” was praised by the jury as “playful and imaginative capturing the dynamic spirit of urban life” and Koura Studios and ARUP Seattle (USA) for their design “Nkosi Market” which the jury said represented the “strongest point tower design of all the submissions.”

The student prize was awarded to STark (France/Germany) for their design “The Social Net Wood” which was considered by the jury to be “entirely buildable.” Honorable mentions went to Adrianna Colón and Isaias Rubert (Puerto Rico) and Javier Mosquera González (Spain).

The second category challenged applicants to design affordable wood housing for a site anywhere in the world, with a focus on improving and providing global housing solutions in wood. Solutions specific to the African continent were encouraged because of the location of this year’s World Forestry Congress. The Grand Prize winner of this category was Shosholoza and Friends (Italy) for their design “(HOUSE)TREE(WORK)” which was praised by the jury for its “clarity and simplicity.” Second prize went to A.gor.a Architects (Thailand) for their design “Temporary Dormitories for Mae Tao Clinic” which the jury said “underscores the diversity of innovation scales that can be realized with wood construction.” The student prize was awarded to Monika Wozniak (Poland) for her design “Natural Wood Skin.” Honourable mentions went to Nguyen Manh Hung and Dong Minh Anh of (Vietnam) and Marc Benjamin Drewes (Germany).

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